Michael Phelps recently told Fourth-Place Medal that the biggest disappointment of his swimming career was losing the 200 fly in Ann Arbor this April. The loss was Phelps' first in the event since 2002.
We hadn't seen a clip of the race until our friends at Universal Sports sent it over today:
The final turn is all the proof you need that Phelps isn't in top shape. His timing was off as he went into the turn, which forced an extended glide to the wall. Once there, Phelps holds a beat too long, allowing competitors to his left to make up ground. Bad turns happen though. For Michael Phelps, bad underwaters don't.
Phelps came up on his streamline before every swimmer in the pool, an event which is sort of like Tiger Woods finishing last in the week in driving distance. The third turn is where Phelps plunges the dagger into his opponents. He holds it longer and goes faster and comes up farther than everybody else in the pool. In Ann Arbor, Phelps didn't do any of that.
The reason? He's not in shape. The 200 fly is one of the most taxing races in swimming. Even the best in the world feel their muscles burn when they get to the third turn. Your lungs are screaming for air, lactic acid is burning through your muscles; the hardest thing to do is to hold that streamline for any considerable amount of time and to finish strong. When you're not in peak physical form, it's impossible.